Benzodiazepines are a class of medications commonly used to treat anxiety and other conditions such as insomnia, detox, and seizures. They are one of the most commonly used medications with 10% of Montgomery County residents being prescribed.
Some examples of benzodiazepines are:
Benzodiazepines are meant to be used short term (less than 12 weeks). Long term use of these medications can cause severe side effects and withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive. Long term use can cause physical dependence and interdose withdrawal (when more of the medication is needed in order to prevent withdrawal sickness in between doses).
So what is the problem?
In some cases of long term use the user may experience an increase in the symptoms the medication was supposed to treat such as increased anxiety, rage, feeling as if they are going “crazy”, depression, suicidal ideation, and panic attacks. However, it is not easy to withdrawl from this medication because…
Benzo withdrawal can cause death!
Benzo withdrawal is riskier than heroin withdrawal. The symptoms include tremors, hallucinations, suicide, muscle pains, panic attacks, sensory abnormalities, insomnia, seizures and in extreme cases death. Withdrawal can last a week but in some cases it has lasted for months and some people may still experience symptoms for years. Withdrawing from benzodiazepines cold turkey can result in death. A SLOW taper is advised under medical supervision.
Call to Action:
Do to the severity of the withdrawal many treatment centers currently do not have the legal authority, lack protocols or are medically ill-equipped to accept clients who are wanting to detox from benzodiazepines, and opiates simultaneously. Do to this many individuals are unable to access the services they desperately need. Please join in helping us address this by advocating for:
- Increased and more effective training for healthcare professionals.
- Detox protocols that address this dual substance addiction issue and its intricacies.
- Increased knowledge in the community about the dangers of Benzodiazepine abuse.
- Developing comprehensive in-patient and out-patient supports for individuals experiencing Benzodiazepine detox.